Overview of Duke work on seabed mining regulations
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) establishes the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and directs the ISA to develop the resources of the deep seabed (the sea floor located beneath the High Seas in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction) for the benefit of the “common heritage of mankind” while also protecting the environment. Article 145 of UNCLOS explicitly requires the ISA to ensure that mining of the deep seabed does not interfere with the ecological balance of the marine environment.
Duke faculty are closely involved with the ongoing ISA effort to develop regulations that will govern the mining of the deep seabed in a fashion that protects the marine environment. Faculty are contributing to both the scientific and legal aspects of developing these rules.
Dr. Cindy Van Dover, the Harvey Smith Professor of Biological Oceanography at the Marine Lab, is one of the world’s leading authorities on the ecology and function of sea floor hot springs. She has published widely on the biodiversity of the deep sea, and is a pioneer in the new field of deep-sea environmental management. She participates in ISA-sponsored meetings from Jamaica to Europe to Asia that focus on the UNCLOS requirement to protect the environment of the deep sea in connection with mining, and has provided detailed recommendations for methods to protect particularly important areas of biodiversity and to monitor potential seabed mining impacts.
Steve Roady is Professor of the Practice of Law at the Law School and has been working on ocean conservation legal and policy issues for more than two decades. He is a member of an ISA working group that is developing information on potential approaches to the allocation of liability for damages from deep sea bed mining. He also is a member of a global team of scientists and legal scholars sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts that is providing commentary and suggestions on the proposed ISA regulations. He is assisting the ISA with consideration of specific provisions in the regulations that will help ensure protection of the marine environment, including provisions for public participation, legally-binding standards and guidelines for seabed mining contractors, and an environmental liability trust fund.